Tag: Hotels

  • Spring Lane Hotel, Arlington

    Ghost sign

    Making your establishment a “hotel” was an easy way to get a liquor license for a neighborhood bar. There did have to be rooms available, of course, and it was noted of some of these establishments that the traffic was mostly local. This one is a little larger than many; perhaps it made some of its money as a rooming house. Hotels like this were still common in older neighborhoods as late as thirty years ago; few are left now, since there is no longer much advantage to maintaining the dusty little rooms upstairs.

    This hotel probably dates from before Prohibition; it was here by 1923, at any rate. Layers of ghost signs document multiple proprietors; the only one old Pa Pitt was able to read with certainty was Wm. Deckenbach.

    Spring Lane Hotel
    Front of the hotel
    Spring Lane Hotel
  • The Roosevelt Hotel

    Built in 1927, the Roosevelt was Renaissance classical on the outside and Tudor on the inside. On Emporis.com, the design is credited to Webber & Wurster, a Philadelphia firm whose only work listed on Emporis.com is this building, although some Philadelphia buildings come up in wider Internet searches. The Roosevelt went out of business as a hotel more than once, for the last time half a century ago in 1972. Since then it has been apartments of one sort or another.

  • The Arrott Building Reborn

    Arrott Building

    After much expensive restoration and renovation, the Arrott Building (designed by Frederick Osterling) has reopened as a hotel called “The Industrialist.” The exquisite lobby has been carefully preserved. The picture above is huge, stitched together from several photographs to make what may be the only complete head-on picture of the Wood Street façade of the building on the internet.

    Entrance to the Arrott Building
  • Webster Hall

    Webster Hall

    A full view of the Fifth Avenue façade of Webster Hall. The design is by Henry Hornbostel, who successfully created a conservative Art Deco classicism that harmonizes with the other grand monuments on Fifth Avenue.

    The building was apparently put up as fancy bachelor apartments, but soon became a grand hotel (it is now apartments again). It was famous for the Webster Hall Cake, whose secret recipe is still treasured by little old ladies all over Pittsburgh. But old Pa Pitt is delighted to discover that the Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle has a whole article on Webster Hall Cake, including two recipes that claim to be close approximations. Father Pitt suspects that there are still little old ladies out there who claim to have the real thing, but these recipes are a good start.

  • Urban Archaeology: The Hotel Henry

    Fragment of a plate from the Hotel Henry

    One never knows what may turn up at an old homesite. The Seldom Seen Greenway on the border of Beechview and Mount Washington is forest now, with Saw Mill Run gushing merrily through it. But Seldom Seen was a little village of its own once, and the old homesites are full of broken plates and bottles and other items of intense archaeological interest. Here is a plate from the Hotel Henry, once a grand hotel on Fifth Avenue, but torn down in the 1950s to make way for a modernist skyscraper. Was it bought or stolen from the hotel? We’ll never know.

    The Historic Pittsburgh site has a good picture of the Hotel Henry as it appeared in about 1900.

    Do you need a copy of the hotel’s logo in scalable form? Probably not, but old Pa Pitt has reconstructed it for you anyway:

  • Monongahela House

    Back in the 1800s the Monongahela House was Pittsburgh’s first-class hotel. Charles Dickens stayed here, which was not enough to give him a good impression of the city. The hotel went through several incarnations; this is how it looked in 1888.

    Source: Allegheny County Centennial.

  • Webster Hall

    Webster Hall was designed by Henry Hornbostel, Pittsburgh’s favorite architect in the early twentieth century. It was built as a luxury hotel [Update: in fact it was originally bachelor apartments, but that venture soon failed, and it was converted to a hotel] in 1926, and we can see Hornbostel moving from his flamboyant classical style (as exemplified in the City-County Building) to a sort of restrained Art Deco.

  • Mellon Square and the William Penn

    Mellon Square is one of the few open spaces in downtown Pittsburgh: a whole block of landscaped park (with, curiously, shops underneath it on Smithfield Street, because the park is flat and the land is not). Above, fountains; below, a view of the square looking toward the William Penn, designed by Benno Janssen and built to be the best hotel in America when Henry Frick financed it, and still quite a luxurious hotel. In the middle distance is a Mennonite choir, which is the sort of thing you might stumble across in Mellon Square.

  • Wyndham Grand Pittsburgh Downtown

    It used to be the Hilton, whose management kept flirting with bankruptcy. For some time the odd swoopy addition on the front was stalled half-finished; it is now completed and open. This is Pittsburgh’s tallest hotel, and probably the ugliest as well. But as a place to stay, it has its benefits—among them, spectacular views in all directions.

    Camera: Kodak EasyShare Z1485 IS.